Articles Tagged with New Hampshire DWI

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In order to reduce drunk driving in New Hampshire, police officers are trained to look for certain clues that may tell them if a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). The process police use to decide whether or not to arrest a driver can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Observing the Driver. When on the road, police often watch the behavior of other drivers for signs that indicate the driver may be impaired by alcohol or drugs. These may include taking certain risks, such as turning or merging too quickly into traffic, or slowed reactions to things like brake lights or stop signs.
  2. Initial Contact. When a police officer first speaks to a driver suspected of driving drunk, the officer is looking to see whether the motorist has slurred speech, poor coordination, the smell of alcohol, or open alcohol containers in the vehicle. Officers use these signs to decide whether or not to require the driver to take one or more field sobriety tests.
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In New Hampshire, the Division of Motor Vehicles will suspend your drivers’ license in certain DUI or DWI-related situations. This can occur even if you have not yet been convicted of a New Hampshire DUI or DWI charge. This suspension is known as an Administrative License Suspension, or ALS.

Currently, you will face an administrative license suspension in New Hampshire if you refuse to take a chemical test to analyze your blood alcohol concentration (BAC); if your BAC upon testing is revealed to be 0.08 or higher; or if you are under age 21 and your BAC is 0.02 or above. A different, harsher set of rules applies to drivers who have commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs).

When putting an ALS on a New Hampshire driver’s license, the Division of Motor Vehicles must give notice to the driver that their license is revoked. The suspension generally begins thirty days after the driver is notified. When the notice is delivered, the driver receives a temporary license good for the 30-day period between the notice and when the suspension begins.

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An off-duty firefighter in Nashua was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) after he crashed into a car driven by the mayor of Nashua at the corner of Lake and Pine streets, according to a recent news story released by WMUR. Both drivers and the mayor’s passenger were wearing their seat belts and suffered no injuries.

The firefighter was charged with a DWI second offense, since he previously pleaded guilty to another DWI charge in 2009. He was released on bail and is expected to appear in court in November. The fire department has not said whether the charge will affect the firefighter’s employment.

A conviction for a second New Hampshire DWI carries harsher penalties than the first conviction. These include a mandatory jail sentence, mandatory treatment that the driver must pay for, and a mandatory loss of your drivers’ license for at least three years. You may also be required to attend the Multiple Offender Intervention Detention Program and pay over $2,000 in fines.

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New Hampshire law enforcement officers who take blood samples to test a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) or look for other intoxicating drugs must follow a strict set of rules to ensure a proper sample is taken. A sample that is not taken properly may be contaminated or be too small to allow for a full range of tests. Unfortunately, many New Hampshire drivers have faced DWI charges on the basis of an improperly collected blood sample.

State law requires that a sample be approximately 20 milliliters to allow for multiple New Hampshire DUI blood tests. A sample this size also allows for a “blood split,” or an independent test for intoxicants. A blood split can be key to challenging your DWI charge, especially if it shows the results of the original test are wrong.

Samples must be taken in sterile conditions, and the items used to sterilize the skin, needle, and other equipment must not contain anything “that would interfere with an analysis for alcohol or drugs.” They must be stored in a proper container, which must contain a preservative to prevent a blood sample from being destroyed by bacteria or separation.

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In May of 2009, our client Drew was operating his motor vehicle in Allenstown, New Hampshire where he came upon a “sobriety check point”, otherwise known as a DWI road block. Although Drew was not operating his motor vehicle in erratic or improper fashion, he was promptly stopped by the police and asked for his license and registration and whether he had been drinking that evening. Drew was honest with the officer and admitted to consuming a few drinks earlier in the evening. Drew was immediately asked to step from his vehicle and perform field sobriety tests on the side of the road.

The arresting officer administered DWI field sobriety tests including the Horizontal Gaze Nastagmus, One Leg Stand, and Walk And Turn tests. Drew passed the Walk And Turn test and the One Leg Stand test. However, the arresting officer believed that Drew failed the Horizontal Gaze Nastagmus test (a test where you are asked to follow a stimulus with your eyes from the right and to the left). Drew was then arrested and charged with DWI.

Drew was brought into the DWI Mobile Command Center and asked to submit to a breath test on an Intoxillyzer machine. Believing in his innocence, Drew submitted to a breath test which revealed a result beyond the prima fascia limit of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Drew retained Tenn And Tenn, P.A. to defend him against the DWI charges filed against him by the State of New Hampshire. His breath samples were immediately forwarded to and independent laboratory for testing. CG Labs, Inc.’s analysis revealed errors with the Intoxillyzer, and/or the operation of that machine by the State’s certified intoxillyzer operator. These errors were immediately brought to the attention of the prosecutor. Nonetheless, the State proceeded with prosecuting Drew for Driving While Impaired.

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Being charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is no laughing matter. However, are all individuals accused of driving under the influence truly guilty? The question is a significant one, and should have a simple, clear-cut answer. However, when you factor in human tendency for error, the answer becomes relatively clouded, and the line between sober and impaired can often be quite blurred.

Roadside devices used to determine an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level are commonly administered by officers who believe that the individual is operating a motor vehicle while driving under the influence. However, it is critical that officers are properly trained in order to provide the most accurate results in making such a life-altering determination. That is, officers must be properly trained to use a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) device. The officers must be capable and skilled in handling and using such a device and must be familiar with its limitations. Finally, the officer must inform the individual being tested that refusal to submit to the PBT does not mean that the individual will not be required to take an additional test to determine BAC level after that individual has been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

As we all know, machines and electronic devices are not always accurate, especially when they are not used properly. This holds true for a PBT, which simply stated, is a battery operated hand-held device. Consequently, many people believe that results stemming from preliminary breath tests should not be admissible in a court of law. Aside from inherent machine error, improper procedure in administering a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) can be argued that the results of said test are not accurate, and therefore not admissible in court.